Curate’s Corner – December 2015
What’s the point of Advent? Surely it’s just a prelude to the main event of Christmas itself isn’t it?
I suspect if I was to stop people on the High Street at random and ask them what they associated with the word ‘Advent’, the majority of the answers would probably be ‘advent calendars’. Some might even think to mention advent candles; the ones that you light each day in the countdown to the 25th December.
I wonder if you have bought an advent calendar for anyone this year? Perhaps one for yourself, so you can enjoy a daily chocolate treat as you count the days down to Christmas!
Thinking of chocolate, last year the Christian website ‘www.shipoffools.com’ carried out an online poll to try to find the advent calendar that was furthest from the Christmas story. The overwhelming winner was the lingerie retailer, Ann Summers, whose calendar featured chocolates in the shape of body parts! (I’ll leave the rest to your imagination!)
But what do advent calendars and advent candles actually mean? By counting down the days to Christmas, there is a danger that they become nothing more that a means of feeding still further the festive frenzy; a bit like an elongated version of the big countdown clocks on New Year’s Eve.
Think of it this way; on a bus or train, you have people who chat, some are studying the horse-racing or sports pages of the paper, others are apparently doing nothing or just simply day dreaming. For many, the journey is only an unavoidable means to get to their destination and has no value in itself.
Yet there are others who are fully aware of what is going as they ride. They are aware of their surroundings, of the people around them. They may admire the beauty of a morning sky or the loveliness of trees or buildings they pass on their way. The journey and the destination are part of one reality. The going is as important as the arriving and one contributes to the other.
In the journey of life, our approach should be similar. If we want to celebrate the First Coming of Jesus and prepare for his Second Coming, then the way to do it is to be aware of his coming into every moment of every day.
Advent, then, is less about ticking off the days leading to the big event, and much more about preparing our hearts for the coming of Christ afresh into our lives.
So this Advent, try not to get swallowed up in all the frenetic Christmas preparations, but instead take the time to prepare yourself, to prepare your heart, for receiving afresh the reality and love of Jesus into into your life.
You may find this prayer helpful to use during this Advent season:
you know the thoughts of my mind
and the treasures of my heart.
You understand my fears
and you are gentle with the secret hopes that I cherish.
Help me to entrust to you those things that trouble me
and those things I long for, so that,
as I journey through Advent towards the Christmas stable,
there may be purpose in my steps and courage in my soul.
I ask this in Jesus’ name.